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Edison Insider

The Student News Site of Thomas Alva Edison Intermediate School

Edison Insider

Edison Insider

Stephen Hill’s “Speak Sobriety” initiative inspires students to say NO to drugs

Author and motivational speaker Stephen Hill spoke to 8th graders about the dangers of addiction.
Photo courtesy of Google
Author and motivational speaker Stephen Hill spoke to 8th graders about the dangers of addiction.

Have you ever heard an inspirational school assembly before? In the boisterous auditorium of Edison Intermediate School (EIS), an inspirational assembly was run by Stephen Hill, founder of “A Journey to Recovery: Speak Sobriety.” Stephen Hill is a national speaker (primarily in schools) on substance abuse prevention, mental health awareness, and a best selling author. Stephen is not just any speaker, but one that touches upon the dangers of substance abuse through personal experience.

Before Stephen became the influential speaker that he is today, his life was clouded in darkness from his addiction. He was introduced to drugs and alcohol at the ripe age of 14 (freshman year) by his older peers. Stephen comes from a background where the addictive personality runs in his genes. Struggling with addiction, he experienced numerous setbacks, including academic failure, legal issues, and strained relationships. What started as casual drug use spiraled out of control into something that robbed nearly a decade of his life. Stephen’s bright future as a student athlete faded as his addiction took hold. He dropped out of numerous colleges, was arrested several times, and entered countless treatment programs, each time falling back into the cycle of addiction. After many failed treatment programs, Stephen finally quit and is now 11 years sober. Stephen presents his story miles away from home all across the country. His presentations are strong, powerful, and very motivational to the students in schools (speaksobriety.com).

Stephen just recently presented his story to the students in Edison Intermediate School (EIS) in New Jersey. Eighth grader Evan Roe shared, “I took away from the assembly that drugs can, and will, ruin your life. I think you have to have that initiative to not take that risk which determines your addiction, and you should prevent it at all costs.”

Eighth grade Social Studies teacher Mr. Robert Maver said, “Stephen Hill is a great speaker, and it is good to know someone’s story with firsthand experience.” 

According to research, it may be more important than ever to educate students on the dangers of addiction and substance abuse: “Drug overdose deaths involving prescription opioids rose from 3,442 in 1999 to 17,029 in 2017. From 2017 to 2019, the number of deaths declined to 14,139. This was followed by a slight increase in 2020, with 16,416 reported deaths. In 2022, the number of deaths declined to 14,716” (NIDA).

In addition, Stephen explained to students that the drug fentanyl has been becoming even more popular in recent years, and he said, “If fetanyl existed when I was doing drugs, I certainly wouldn’t be here to give this program today.”

When it comes to the seriousness of addiction, seventh grade student Wyatt Schlitzer noted the financial and emotional tolls of drug use: “Drugs can change your mood and cause you to act differently than you normally would, and you would also have debt from buying the drugs.” 

In addition, Stephen’s assemblies show students that they have the choice. Student Assitance Counselor Ms. Melissa Wilson explained, “Stephen emphasized that the students have the choice instead of just telling them what to do, and he also explains how your decisions have consequences.” 

Furthermore, sixth grader Jacob Kaplan highlights how addiction impacts families: “Drugs do not only affect you, but they also affect the ones who love you. They cause you to separate from and become distant with your family.” 

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About the Contributors
Julia Lam
Julia Lam, Writer
Julia is a writer for the Edison Insider. She also enjoys listening to music, and her favorite music artists are Tate McRae, and Frank Ocean. Julia has two really cute dogs named Billy and Winnifred, and she loves them a lot. Her all time favorite foods are Alfredo pasta and Caesar salad. In Julia’s free time, you might see her  going to the beach and spending time with her family.
Katie Lane
Katie Lane, Writer
Katie is a kind, and caring writer for the Edison Insider. When Katie is not on the basketball court, she enjoys going down the shore with her family, and going shopping. You would probably catch her shopping at Brandy Melville or Pacsun. Katie’s Starbucks order is a venti strawberry acai lemonade refresher with no strawberry inclusions. Her favorite dinner spot is the diner.

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